Under Pressure – a life with Queen

I was 5 years old when I first remember being aware of Queen. Sitting on my bunk bed with the window open with my sister and my Dad listening to the playing Elland Road in Leeds. I grew up in a village just outside Leeds and we could not only hear them playing from our bedroom we could see the lights shining at Elland Road.

It really was a Kind of Magic (did you see what I did there?).

It was a real treat because we should definitely have been asleep but it was so exciting listening to this amazing music flying through the air from this mythical place just two and a half miles away. Of course I had no idea what Elland Road was, I wasn’t 100% sure who Queen were if I’m honest, but that moment started a life long love of this amazing band.

Fast forward a few years and I was hooked.

When Freddie Mercury died in November 1991. I was 15 years old. Just starting my GCSEs. I had been listening to Queen for a few years by this time. Of course buying records was expensive (I was just transitioning to CDs!) but I was lucky because my friends Dan and Simon were fans too so we used to record each others onto a tape so we had pretty much all their back catalogue between us.

I bought every newspaper, all the tribute magazines, had the posters on my wall and grieved as though he was a family member.

I loved everything about Queen. I’ve always loved rock music, but I loved the theatre that Freddie Mercury added. I loved that they laughed at themselves.

I’m sure you must be wondering why on earth I am going on about my favourite band by now. Well, there are a few reasons.

Not least the fact that the new film “Bohemian Rhapsody” is released this week.

It’s more than that though.

This film got me thinking. I can remember listening to Queen when I was a little girl. Listening to their music was a huge influence on my teenage years. Years later they were one of the first things I bonded with my father in law over. I can’t remember a time without Queen in my life.

Of course I never saw the original line up live. Their last tour with Freddie Mercury was in 1986, I was 10 years old. In those days concerts weren’t family environments.

A few years ago though I watched the film Bucket List, with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. It got me thinking about what things I would put on my bucket list.  

If you are unfamiliar with the concept, a bucket list is basically a list of all the things you want to achieve in your life. I realised that there were very few things I felt passionately about achieving, very few places I felt I had to visit.

But I attempted to write a list with a few things I wanted to achieve, places to go, things to do, before I die. 

  1. Write a book.
  2. Go to Italy.
  3. See Queen in concert.

I suddenly realised that not having seen Queen live was a big deal for me. I really regretted that I hadn’t had that chance.

Then they announced that they were touring with Paul Rodgers.

It wasn’t perfect but it was better than nothing. Unfortunately the timing was all wrong. They toured from 2004-09. My daughter was born in 2004, I was diagnosed with acromegaly in 2007 and my son was born in 2009. They were busy and exhausting years.

Going to concerts was not high on my list of things to do.

Then a miracle happened in the form of Adam Lambert.

 

Adam Lambert is the son Freddie never had, in my opinion. My amazing hubby got me tickets to go see them live for my Christmas present and we went to Birmingham on 23rd January 2015.

It was a dream come true. I have had a wonderful life. I have been fortunate enough to meet and even work with many famous people along the way. Never have I been star struck (well maybe a little with Alan Rickman but mostly I’m pretty cool!) they are just people like us.

Queen was a very different matter. When Brian May walked out onto the stage I cried. I don’t mean I had a tear in my eye, I mean properly cried. 

It was one of the most amazing nights of my life.

Why am I telling you this though?

Well, obviously I think you should all go out and watch the new film, if you are interested, but that’s not the reason.

What I really want you to do is to stop and think about all the things that you really want to do with your life.

There is definitely something significant about the music you connect to in your teenage years. I don’t think we ever connect with music in quite the same way at any other time in our lives.

What music has really impacted on your life? 

Have you been fortunate enough to see your favourite band playing live?

I just want you to think about what makes you happy.

Write your Bucket List.

Don’t overthink it.

If it pops into your head, write it down.

You might be surprised at some of the things that come up.

You might not appreciate how much those things mean to you until you actually get to tick it off either. I certainly didn’t.

Live your very best life, whether it is using your best perfume, going to the theatre more, travelling the globe, eating in fancy restaurants.

Whatever makes you happy, if you possibly can do it, then do it!

 

**UPDATE 24th October 2017**

I had to hop back on to give you an little update. This morning my husband and I bunked off and went to see “Bohemian Rhapsody”. I had a meeting cancel at last minute so I suddenly had a timely free day. I knew I would love it. I knew it would be an education. I have always loved the music and performance Queen created but I have never really looked into much of their private lives or behind the scenes elements. I was not expecting to laugh and cry. If you are a fan of the band, if you like music, if you are a human, you must see this film.

Every so often I go to the cinema or the theatre and completely lose where I am. It doesn’t happen often. If happens when I see Les Miserables at the theatre, it happens when I see War of the Worlds tours and it happened today in the cinema.

I didn’t want the film to end and I cried as it did. Now I know I have something of a history of crying at Queen but I really wasn’t expecting to cry at this film. It really is exceptional. I feel I have to give a special mention to Gwilym Lee who plays Brian May too. His performance was breathtaking. I have always been a big fan of Brian May and thought he would be hard to replace but it’s so evident that they worked incredibly closely together to ensure the portrayal was spookily accurate.

Huge congratulations to everyone involved in the film though, it was a triumph!

ADVANCE: It’s time to make a change

We hear a lot these days about people going on retreats to find themselves, for personal development or to learn a new skill. It seems a strange word to choose, surely none of us want to “retreat” we want to ADVANCE. Whether it is in our personal life, our business, our relationships, academically… whatever you are learning, developing you want to advance and make a move forwards not backwards.

Months ago I was asked by two of my favourite inspirational women if I would be interested in running an event with them to empower people and help them to move forward feeling happy, calm and empowered.

 

How could I say no?

So we have organised an amazing day of Happiness, Calm and Empowerment which will open your eyes, your mind and leave you feeling inspired and ready to tackle everything that 2019 has to offer.

ADVANCE; Because who wants to retreat is taking place on Monday 26th November in Telford, UK and it will be a powerful and life changing day. 

 Taz Thornton, the Empress of Empowerment and Jo Howarth, Happiness Hero are two of the most inspirational women I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and to be working with them is truly awesome.

Taz is an award winning coach

 She is an empowerment specialist and the UK’s number one inspirational breakthrough speaker. She is a TEDx speaker and best selling author.

Taz will be empowering you with her own unique blend of motivation and inspiration. Her speciality is helping people to reboot their lives and move from breakdown to break through. I have known Taz for many years now and I can’t tell you how many times she has helped me out when I have been feeling stuck. 

She isn’t you average coach and speaker. Taz walks the talk. Having spent her twenties and thirties living a very corporate life in London she made a life changing decision when she had her “break through” and realised that something had to give. That something was her. Taz transformed her life. She learned new skills including NLP (neurolinguistic programming), shamanic teachings, Reiki, extreme empowerment and much more. She will be leading an amazing session at ADVANCE, you really don’t want to miss this opportunity to learn from her. Just one hour working with Taz would cost you more than the cost of your ticket for a whole day at ADVANCE.

Jo runs The Happiness Club.

She is a Mum, wife and is also a best selling author, hypnotherapist and inspirational speaker.

Jo always suffered with anxiety and stress both at work and in her personal life. She lacked self confidence, self belief and felt like a fraud. Her life changed when she too went through a difficult time in her personal life and she made the decision to change her mindset. Through a combination of coaching and hypnotherapy she changed her life and she has since changed many lives with her magical Happiness Club.

 

Then there’s me, Kate, Queen of Calm.

You know who I am, if you don’t you can read more on my About page. I will be sharing lots of tips to help you stay calm and feel in control right through 2019. I will be looking at routines and simple strategies to help you change your mindset and change your life.

This day will change your life, we guarantee it. BUT, you have to be prepared to follow through. You can’t just turn up, listen and leave. You have to commit to making real, every day changes. If you do that, you life will never be the same again!

We’ve had a few enquiries asking whether this event is just for women. Absolutely not. Just because it is three women speakers does not mean that it is exclusively for women. We have all been to countless large events with all male speakers and there are always lots of women attending, this is no different.

We have also been asked whether you need to have a business to get the most out of the day. Again, no. We will all be giving tips which will help you if you do have a business, but these are transferable skills which may help you with your life whether you are a carer or stay at home parent, employed, self employed or retired. These are life long skills that apply to everyone. We all work with everyone from schools through to the older generation and our techniques work for everyone.

 

Whoever you are, whatever you do, you are going to love ADVANCE.

If you are ready to ADVANCE with and enjoy a day of fun and transformation get yourself along to Telford on 26th November. It really will be a day you won’t forget.

So come along, bring a friend and begin changing your life today!

Book your tickets today. 

World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day is celebrated on the 10th October every year and although it was founded in 1992 it has definitely been talked about more in the last few years than every before.

High profile people such as the royal princes and celebrities have really led the way and used their influence as a force for good on the subject of mental health. By discussing their own struggles with mental wellbeing and encouraging others to do the same they have removed a lot of the stigma that used to exist around mental health issues.

It isn’t long since illnesses such as anxiety and depression were kept behind closed doors and those struggling, then felt that not only had they got this huge issue to overcome but they felt unable to talk about it with anyone for fear of seeming weak.

 The reality of course is very different.

Many people who struggle with mental ill health do so because they are incredibly mentally strong. They simply have so much to deal with, and do it with such grace, that no-one is aware that they are living an internal battle.

In my line of work I am very aware of changing attitudes to mental wellbeing and also see first hand all the statistics we all see on the news.

There are some worrying trends, that cannot be denied. Suicide and self harm rates are up for all age groups, from adolescents to adults, with particularly alarming trends towards self harm among teenage girls.

10% of children (age 5-16 years) have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder (source: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/statistics/mental-health-statistics-children-and-young-people).

10%!

That’s at least three children in every class! And those are the children who have been diagnosed with issues which means it has been so severe that someone has referred them to a medical professional.

These are children.

What are we doing?

Don’t get me wrong, life isn’t always easy. But it shouldn’t be. I actually think that that is part of the problem. I have seen a shift over the last 20, even 30 years towards protecting children and young people from all pain and disappointment.

We don’t allow our children to be upset because they broke their favourite toy, we buy them a replacement.

Preventing them from doing things that we deem to be too dangerous, not allowing them to climb that tree at the park or learn to roller-skate in case they get hurt.

We give awards to everyone at sports day for trying instead of letting the child who is brilliant at running really shine that day and give the other children a small and very manageable dose of disappointment.

If we don’t learn these little lessons and develop that mental resilience, how on earth can we cope with failing our driving test, not passing an exam or being rejected in an interview process?

Learning to be more mentally strong is a challenge for everyone, with or without additional challenges. I am a huge advocate for learning strategies to strengthen our mental wellness before we need to use them. By having these tools and techniques ready in our toolbox we will use them quickly and easily when we really need them.

That is why most of my work is in schools. I am passionate about teaching children strategies to stay calm and happy while, for the most part, that that is their natural state. It is then something that they understand and is so natural and instinctive that they use their favourite breathing technique or they meditate, do some exercise, whatever works best for them, whenever they feel the mental malfunction monster knocking. 

 

 

As a society we need to understand that it is through our challenges that we learn to grow. This must start in childhood. Protecting each other from pain isn’t doing us any favours.

I’m not saying that we need to intentionally hurt each other, that is very different, but some upset is character building. It strengthens our mental wellness. 

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”

Khalil Gibran

Writer

My sister overcame a huge fear this weekend. She intentionally went to a Go Ape with her school friends and spent two hours high in the trees, walking on ropes and swinging down zip wires. She is terrified of heights, but she decided that it would do her good, as part of her “special” birthday celebrations, to face her fears and tackle this head on with supportive friends who she has known for many years.

I wouldn’t say she found it easy, she didn’t. But she did it! She laughed and smiled (I’ve seen the evidence!) and enjoyed spending time with her friends, but most of all she had that amazing sense of achievement that you can only get from achieving something you didn’t think possible. If she had sat at home worrying about it, she wouldn’t have had that amazing buzz.

How are you going to mark World Mental Health Day?

You don’t have to climb trees or jump out of a plane, but maybe you could visit someone you know doesn’t get out much? Perhaps ring your Mum or your Nan? Check in on that friend who is having a difficult time? Just be there for someone who needs to know that they are loved and supported. Maybe you will choose this day to start a new wellbeing routine; find a yoga class, make a self care promise to yourself.

Whatever you decide to do know that if you are struggling today, you are not alone and there are people out there who want to talk to you and help you.

I’m one of them.

By all means reach out to me and ask my advice or just tell me your story. I’m always here.

Happy World Mental Health Day, let’s make it a happy and healthy one, for everyone! 

Do you take time to reflect?

September is the start of my new year. For as long as I can remember I have worked in academic years.

I was at school, the new year started in September, that was when you started with a new teacher in a new class, new school even.

Then I went to college to do my teacher training. Again new year started in September.

When I started teaching I then had my new class and started a new year in September.

Now I am a Mum, my children start new school years and change class or school in September and of course I work in schools.

This is deeply engrained programming.

I once tried to use a yearly diary. 

It was disastrous. My brain just doesn’t work in calendar years. So now I have accepted that my year starts in the Autumn and concludes in the Summer.

I am an academic diary girl and I always will be.

But why am I telling you this?

Well, I have been reflecting. That’s what we do at the start of a new year isn’t it? We set out what we want to achieve, changes we are going to make and where we want to be at the end of the year.

My new year is no different. I have set my targets for the year, I have created my vision board and I am raring to go.

Part of this process is reflection and acknowledging how far I have come too.

Three and a half years ago I conceived my Calmer Classrooms business. At first I visited schools, delivered training and lessons, but I was unclear what the future of the business was.

Two and a half years ago I began creating lesson plans for teachers so that they could lead mindfulness and relaxation sessions and I started building my newsletter.

Eighteen months ago I began creating my whole school mindfulness programme. I would spend days in my office, creating resources, building my whole school resources, planning how I was going to help schools in as many practical ways as possible.

I was always busy but I was busy doing things in my office. I could do my work at 9am on a Monday or 8pm on a Saturday, as long as I got them done. My friends would get in touch and I could always meet for a catch up. I never missed a school run.

A year ago I had just released my whole school wellbeing package and my teacher resource package. I was amazed every time I had a school sign up or a teacher buy my resources. It was so incredibly satisfying to know that something I had created was being used in schools, not just in the UK, but thanks to the power of the internet, schools around the world were using my programmes and teaching my lessons.

Now I am out in schools, colleges, businesses, networking every week. I never have a week in my office alone. I still take time to create resources but I spend much more time helping in a physical way too.

I used to wonder if my ideas for Calmer Classrooms would ever take off. Whether schools would ever be interested.

It turns out they are.

I have to remember to look back at everything I have done to get here. All the lessons I’ve learned. I have to remember to give myself a pat on the back too!

Do you take time to look back at your journey?

Relfection is so important for learning about ourselves and also for seeing our achievements. So often we are so busy living life we forget to appreciate all the amazing things we have done along the way.

As Kierkegaard points out though, life can only be lived in one direction. Getting the balance between reflection and planning is the key when it comes to achieving in the long term.

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards”

Soren Kierkegaard

Philosopher

Do you take time to plan and reflect?

You might be feeling like you haven’t achieved anything. I guarantee that if you stop and think about where you were and where you are now you will be surprised.

There may be areas of your life that you aren’t satisfied with. That’s ok. That’s where the planning comes in.

Take the time to look back on the last year. Then get really clear on where you want to be in a year’s time and really focus on how you can get there.

Maybe you want to earn more money?

Perhaps spending more time with loved ones is top of your list.

It could be that you want to get more healthy; eat better, do more exercise… Whatever you want to achieve picture yourself achieving it. Create a vision board and put it somewhere you will see it regularly.

Get really clear on exactly what you want.

You aren’t going to move house, you are going to move to the house of your dreams with a woodland at the bottom of the garden on top of a hill. It has 4 bedrooms and a study, room for friends and family to come and stay, it is near your favourite restaurant and you can still get to your children easily. Be REALLY clear. Find a photo of the house (or whatever it is you want) and believe it is coming, believe it’s already yours you are just waiting for the right time to move.

When I looked back on my vision board from last year I was amazed: 

  • New car – tick
  • Holiday to Italy – tick
  • More speaking gigs – tick
  • More time for self care – tick
  • Get more organised – tick
  • Send out my newsletters more regularly – tick

In fact there are only two things on there that I haven’t achieved and they were big things which were always intended to be more long term. But they are coming, I know they are, progress is already being made.

Don’t underestimate the power of putting your energy into something and believing it will happen. Our thoughts are energy and just by believing you start the process. Don’t worry about how, just make the decision and start working towards your goals and watch what happens.

I can’t wait to see what this year brings!

Do you need help changing your mindset?

Mindset is a word I hadn’t really encountered until I was an adult. I wondered whether it was just that it isn’t something children discuss or really need to understand. But upon research I discovered that actually it wasn’t a word used until the 1990’s, when Carol Dweck used the word in a publication. I was, pretty much, an adult by the 90’s, so that explained that.

What is mindset? 

The Oxford English Dictionary defines mindset as the established set of attitudes held by someone”. We often talk about fixed mindsets and growth mindsets in education. These are, in brief, a belief that we have an inability to learn or change attitudes or, conversely, a growth mindset is about developing your ability to learn from mistakes and believe that you can become more intelligent or skilled. 

When I was at school it was believed that once your brain had formed and you had set certain neurological pathways up as your go to approach or attitude to something, that was it, you couldn’t change it. We have now discovered a wonderful thing called neuroplasticity. We know that it is possible to reroute those messages and alter our reactions. It takes practice and consistency to rewire our brains but it is possible.

This is great news!

It means that we no longer have to blame our ancestors for our pessimism, or lack of drive. We can now learn to be happy, to be calm to be more motivated and driven. Whatever we want to do is possible if we put in the effort.

It is never a quick fix but often there are simple, easily repeatable exercises which over time help our brains to respond differently to situations and triggers and achieve the results we want.

So, if you respond to feeling anxious or worried by being short tempered with the people around you, you can, over time, learn to respond in a more positive way, and learn to eliminate the feelings of anxiety, or at least deal with them quickly and easily.

Sounds simple doesn’t it?

Well, no it isn’t, but anything worth doing takes time and effort.

Imagine the impact feeling calm and confident all the time would have on your life, your family, and your business. 

What if you knew how to react, and what do to quiet that inner voice every time imposter syndrome raised its ugly head?

Imagine no more! My new workbook and MP3 pack, Change your Mindset and Become the Force, can help you to do just that.

It won’t happen over night, although you should see immediate improvement, but over time, by listening to the meditations and practicing the exercises in the workbook you will slowly change your automatic responses to these, often crippling, stories you are telling yourself.

Read more about this programme before you decide.

Are you ready to change your mindset?

 

I’m ready!

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